Posts Tagged ‘Kalmia’

From the Minute to the Majestic

In late August last year, I discovered a new rocky meadow just southwest of Patterson Mountain (see Exploring near Patterson Mountain). I wrote that I expected it to be blooming in May. Well, May is here, so it was time to see what it looked like in bloom. On Monday, May 9, John Koenig and I went up Road 1714 off of Patterson Mountain Road 5840. We parked at the quarry on the bend in the road and walked down the road for about a tenth of a mile. A very short walk through the woods brought us to the top of the east end of the steep meadow in a couple of minutes.

It can be hard to come up with a good name for a place so one doesn't have to refer to it as "that rocky meadow off Road 1714". The masses of Indian dream fern gave us the idea to name the meadow after it. The spring phacelia was perched on the rocky shelves above the ferns.

It can be hard to come up with a good name for a place, but we didn’t want to have to refer to this area as “that rocky meadow off Road 1714”. The masses of Indian dream fern gave us the idea to name the meadow after it.

Naked broomrape growing out of spring gold. Without digging the plants up to look for the attached haustorium, it is only a guess that they are parasitizing the spring gold.

Naked broomrape growing out of spring gold. Without digging the plants up to look for the attached haustorium, it is only a guess that they are parasitizing the spring gold.

I was thrilled to see so many brightly colored flowers after last year’s trip when most everything was dried out and brown. There were lots of purple larkspur (Delphinium menziesii) in full bloom as well as two slightly different shades of yellow lomatiums—both spring gold (Lomatium utriculatum) and the deeper yellow Hall’s lomatium (L. hallii) were abundant. Bright red paintbrushes were coming into bloom. They were quite variable. Some plants had the lobed leaves and wide, fluffy flower heads of harsh paintbrush (Castilleja hispida), while others had the unlobed leaves and narrow flower heads characteristic of frosted paintbrush (C. pruinosa). With the handlens I was able to find a few forked hairs on some of the plants, indicating at least some frosted paintbrush in their lineage. I’ve seen these mixed populations in many places in the area, so I wasn’t surprised. I assume the two species are hybridizing, but it would take DNA work to confirm my lay theory.

We poked around the east end of the meadow and finally discovered a small patch of Thompson’s mistmaiden, something I thought I’d seen dried plants of last year. It is so small, however, that I didn’t trust identifying it from seed, so I was pleased to find it in flower. We were very happy to find quite a few very bright purple flowers of naked broomrape (Orobanche uniflora). Their flowers were larger than usual, and from a distance we had trouble picking them out among the larkspur. I was surprised that they weren’t parasitizing the nearby wholeleaf saxifrage (Micranthes integrifolia) where I frequently find them, but rather they were growing most often among the spring gold. Rosy plectritis (Plectritis congesta) was everywhere but just budding up, so there will be plenty of color later in the month. Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring near Patterson Mountain

After all my exploring, I didn't have much time left for Patterson, so I only went as far as the Lone Wolf Shelter meadow, where there were dozens of reblooming alpine laurel (Kalmia microphylla) flowers.

After all my exploring, I didn’t have much time left for Patterson, so I only went as far as the Lone Wolf Shelter meadow, where there were dozens of reblooming alpine laurel (Kalmia microphylla) flowers.

With so few flowers left to see, in late summer and fall I shift my focus over to exploring new sites. Earlier this summer when I was contemplating a trip to Patterson Mountain, I looked at the area on Google Earth and noticed an intriguing south-facing opening right by the road and a small wetland a bit farther east. Neither of these are visible from the road, and I’d never realized they were there. I didn’t manage to get up there at the time, but a couple of weeks ago (August 27), I set out to check these two sites out.

The first spot turned out to be even easier to access than I could have imagined. I parked at a wide spot along Road 1714 just a tenth of a mile past the old quarry. In only about 2 minutes, I popped out through the rhodendron-filled woods on the south side of the road into a steep, rocky meadow. I immediately spotted the almost white, dried leaves of silver lupine (Lupinus albifrons) as well as those of hotrock penstemon (Penstemon deustus)—this was certainly a promising sign! Although it’s not a very large meadow, I managed to spend a couple of hours taxing my brain trying to identify all the golden and dessicated remains of the now-ended blooming season. Read the rest of this entry »

Quaking Aspen Swamp is Decorated in Pink

Pretty patches of pink alpine laurel (Kalmia microphylla) could be seen all over Quaking Aspen Swamp.

Pretty patches of pink alpine laurel (Kalmia microphylla) could be seen all over Quaking Aspen Swamp.

Two long-necked pink birds nibbling on a delicacy? Actually mountain shooting stars and their best friends marsh marigolds.

Two long-necked pink birds nibbling on a delicacy? Actually mountain shooting stars and their best friends, marsh marigolds.

Mother Nature is an avid decorator, so much so that she changes her color scheme every few weeks. On Sunday (May 25) at Quaking Aspen Swamp, she was going for a pink and white theme with yellow accents. On the way down the trail were many western trilliums (Trillium ovatum), some fresh white, others aging to pink and even purple. Pink fairy slippers (Calypso bulbosa) were in their prime. White candyflower (Claytonia sibirica) was in bloom, and its larger cousin, heart-leaf miner’s lettuce (C. cordifolia), was just beginning along one of the side creeks. Last week at Elk Camp, its anthers were opening up to reveal black pollen, but here they kept with the theme and showed only pink anthers. The little red and white flowers of vine maple (Acer circinatum) fit in well. Scattered round-leaved violets (Viola orbiculata) and a lone glacier lily (Erythronium grandiflorum) added touches of yellow.

The open wetland was quite stunning. Grand sweeps of marsh marigold (Caltha leptosepala) and mountain shooting star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi) covered much of the area with their white and pink blossoms. Underneath, trying to get noticed, were large patches of Gorman’s buttercup (Ranunculus gormanii). Despite their bright yellow flowers, they are just too small and too close to the ground to get much attention under the far larger marsh marigolds and shooting stars. This is the common buttercup of wetlands in the southern half of the Western Cascades, but it was my first time seeing it this year, as the last few wetlands I’ve been to were all home to the larger and showier but less common mountain buttercup (R. populago). Interesting how almost every Cascade wetland seems to have one and only one species of buttercup. North of the mountain buttercup sites, water-plantain buttercup (R. alismifolius) seems to predominate. Read the rest of this entry »

Yellow is the Color of Spring at Patterson Mountain

Mountain buttercups spread across many parts of the wet meadow.

Mountain buttercups (Ranunculus populago) spread across many parts of the wet meadow.

Mountain buttercup has shiny, unlobed leaves that are oar-shaped to somewhat heart-shaped at the base.

Mountain buttercup has shiny, unlobed leaves that are oar-shaped to somewhat heart-shaped at the base.

On Tuesday, May 14, I spent a lovely afternoon enjoying the fresh flowers of spring in the newly melted out wet meadows of Patterson Mountain. The long drought was making the rock outcrops too depressing, so after a late start due to the morning fog, I thought Patterson Mountain would be a perfect place to forget about how dry everything had become (hopefully the last couple of days of showers has moistened things up at least a little bit). Some nice people had cleared out both the road and the trail already (thank you!), even though there were still patches of snow in several places. I was pleased to see there was still a little snow because I was really looking forward to seeing the early blooming buttercups. I was not disappointed. The  mountain buttercup (Ranunculus populago) was in its prime and putting on a great show. This beautiful flower is usually seen to the north, with the smaller Gorman’s buttercup (R. gormanii) filling the buttercup niche in most wetlands in Lane and Douglas counties. I spent quite a while taking photographs and looking the perfect plant where the leaf shapes were not hidden by surrounding plants. I did at last find what I was looking for. The only thing that would have made it better was a frog in the photo. I’ve taken photos of frogs among the buttercups before, and I did see a few on this trip but not next to the buttercups. The name Ranunculus is derived from Rana, the latin name from frog, so it just seems appropriate to sneak one into the photo. Read the rest of this entry »

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